‘Vikings’: Floki’s Major Contribution Enabled Ragnar Lothbrok to Get to England for the First Time

In the popular series Vikings, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) makes the decision to go west, and it changes the lives of him and his people forever. But he wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a feat without the help of Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård).

Who is Floki in ‘Vikings’?

Gustaf Skarsgård in 'Vikings'
Gustaf Skarsgård in ‘Vikings’ | Jonathan Hession/A+E Networks/History

Floki is a friend of Ragnar’s when we first meet him. He is a loyal companion in the early days, helping his friend “rise,” as he later claimed. He’s a shipbuilder with immense skill that’s highly appreciated. He’s also a warrior, fighting alongside Ragnar and the rest of the Vikings countless times in battle. 

A firm believer in the Norse gods, Floki disapproves of Ragnar’s entanglement with Christianity through his friendship with Athelstan and aspirations in England.

Their relationship sours over time with his jealousy of Ragnar’s friendship with a former monk named Athelstan (George Blagden) whom Ragnar abducts in the first raid on England. Floki ends up killing him, which devastates Ragnar and affects their friendship moving forward. However, they become friends again eventually. But before all that happens, Floki helps contribute to Ragnar sailing west to England.

Floki’s major contribution enabled Ragnar Lothbrok to get to England for the first time

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Ragnar gives Floki the money to build him a boat, which will be used in the first raid on England. But this boat is different, as it’s lighter and has a larger sail than the average longship at the time. Its “construction is different” and it also has “a strong central plank” according to Floki.

“The two strakes above it are nailed directly onto the knees of the frame,” he tells Ragnar. But the ones below… Look. Are cleated and lashed onto the frames. Not nailed, so they can move in relation to each other.”

These new additions are made so the ship will move over the waves “like a ripple.” It’s the ideal longship for a long journey on the water, which changes everything.

When Ragnar, Floki, and Ragnar’s brother, Rollo (Clive Standen), take the boat out for its first time on the water, Floki is initially concerned about how it will do. Ragnar tells him to “set the sail,” but Floki doesn’t, insisting the boat is going to “sink.”

“I shouldn’t have pretended to build such a boat,” Floki says. “It’s beyond my humble capabilities.”

Ragnar sets the sail with his brother as Floki apologizes for wasting his money. “It was all a joke,” he says. 

But with the sail down, the boat catches the wind, doing what it’s designed to do. “Oh it’s beautiful,” Floki says. “Why didn’t you believe me? I told you I could do it.”

In the new boat, Ragnar and a number of warriors, including Floki, sail west for the first time, finding England. They raid a monastery at Lindisfarne in Northumbria where Ragnar meets Athelstan. When the Vikings return, Ragnar becomes famous for the journey west.

Floki’s skills and his major contribution of making the new type of boat enables Ragnar to get to England for the first time. Through the first raid on England, Ragnar’s legend begins, and he gets talked about by everyone, including the local earl who is already suspicious of him. Soon, Ragnar challenges the Earl, Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), killing him and becoming the Earl of Kattegat himself. However, it’s safe to say the journey to England changes everything for Ragnar, and it’s all thanks to Floki.